One of the most popular questions young teenagers are asked in today’s society is, “Where do you want to go to college?” For some, this question can be incredibly stressful, due to the pressure of getting into a reputable college or university. For others, this question is frustrating, because college will not necessarily be the best option for varying reasons. Some people have a skill that does not require a four-year education beyond high school; some people cannot afford to attend college and do not plan on a profession that easily allows for repayment of student loans; and some people are simply not qualified enough to be accepted into an advanced educational program after high school.
So, what do all these youngsters plan to do after high school? Many have no plan at all, and likely, the reason for this is lack of knowledge about all the options on the table aside from a four-year school. Many community colleges offer two-year associate degrees, as well as trade school options that may be exactly what that next step should be.
Students who enroll in programs through community college sometimes end up transferring their credits to a four-year university, but those who do not also find great reward in their educational accomplishments. With so much on the line regarding financial responsibility, it never makes sense to invest in a four-year plan unless you know it is the right place for you.
All high schools offer counseling for students, and anyone who is unsure of the next step should take advantage of this service. These counselors understand the pressure society puts on our youth to seek an advanced degree, and they also understand that that may not be the right path for everyone. Based on a student’s grades, interests and skills, counselors can offer several paths for consideration aside from a four-year program.
Why is eliminating this pressure so important? There are many answers to this question, but possibly the most important reason is because this pressure can lead some kids to make very bad decisions. Unfortunately, kids seem to have easy access to what they perceive as stress-relieving methods, and these include alcohol, drugs and reckless behavior. When kids feel added pressure, they may or may not be able to handle that pressure as well as a mature adult. They do not see the big picture and look for an easy outlet for their stress.
While asking about college plans is always well-intentioned, we may need to start thinking about what we are really saying to our kids, or how the pressure to succeed the same way we did may affect them. It may be that simply asking them about their interests and goals for the future will lead you both to a discussion about what may be the best route to take to make everyone happy after high school!